Thursday, September 24, 2015

Where Anxiety and Depression Meet

Every once in a while, I open up my journal and look back at where I was when I started this journey. Wow, I have come a long way.

Today I thought I’d share one of my early journal entries. I had told my therapist that I feel really anxious when I woke up in the morning. Dr. Anna had asked me to write down an example of how I talked to myself. Easier said than done. It took several days to be aware of what I was saying to myself. But, then early one morning I caught myself.

I get up at 5:45 a.m. to make my husband breakfast and pack his lunch and then I go back to bed, because I am NOT a morning person. But, for some reason, I thought I should be.
On May 20th, I became aware of what I was thinking as I made John’s lunch. And I sat down and wrote it out after he left for work.

Lots of negative self-talk this morning. I want to go back to bed. But I’ve got lots to get done. I’ll go back to be and get up at 7:00. Yeah, right. You’ll sleep ‘til 8:00. You won’t get anything done anyway. I need a schedule or a routine. You never keep a schedule. You never do what you plan to do. You’ll plan it, but there’s always some reason you won’t do it. You never finish anything. If you schedule something, you’ll talk yourself out of it.

This is one paragraph of it. I remember sitting in shock after writing it. Did I really talk to myself that way? I wouldn’t talk like that to anyone else. There are two pages of this in my journal going over every task I needed to complete that day. No wonder I woke up feeling anxious! This verbal tennis match running in my head occurred every morning before I got out of bed and continued after I got up.

The first thing Dr. Anna did was give me permission to go back to bed and sleep. I obviously need my sleep. Sleep is important if you are depressed (and she said I wasn’t getting too much sleep –another symptom of depression). And, she gave me only one task for each day. My only check-box to mark is “What is your mood?” She also taught me to stop my thoughts. Realizing my thoughts were not normal or good helped me to stop them.

I learned to challenge a thought and ask its value. Is it true or not true? What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best?

BrenĂ© Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, talks about scarcity – the thinking that we are never enough. She quotes Lynne Twist (author of The Soul of Money), “Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.”

I am enough. I don’t do things just like everyone else. I am learning to be myself and be comfortable with me. And the verbal tennis match in my head has stopped.

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  1. I am happy for you Gayle as you learn more and more about yourself, and how to be happy in your own skin. You are an inspiration! This is a journey like no other!

    1. Thank you, Jan! It's a journey of necessity and so freeing. Read Daring Greatly, if you haven't yet. Point after point hits home in it.